What are the Republicans getting at, with their refusal to even pretend they are sane these days?
While the world burns, the GOP keeps setting fires all over Washington. The fiscal cliff, the sequester — these aren't real crises, and never were. Neither is Obamacare, or funding the stupid government. But Republicans, who fervently wished for a distraction in Syria, because they really just don't give a crap, continue with their arsonist ways. Why? Really, why?
It's politics as a game. It's a refusal to face reality. It's a refusal to let anyone else face reality. Really, we shouldn't even have to pay attention to this crap. But the GOP likes to scream fire in an empty theater and then watch as everyone runs over there to put it out for them.
Here's the strategy. That international super-commission on climate change issued its report recently. Scientists (real scientists, we mean; actual practicing climatologosts, not industry shills) are now 95% sure that climate change is anthropocentric. And, no matter what you've heard, there's no question that it's "real" — the matter hasn't been in significant doubt for twenty years now. The message: do something, dammit!
Meanwhile, every brushfire the Republicans start captures the attention of the Democrats, Washington and the so-called media, which then gets to report on what both "sides" say. These manufactured crises — they will continue, with the debt ceiling up next — just keep anyone from even having to discuss or — gasp! — actually act on reports like the ICC's. Or they keep them from doing something, finally, about jobs. Or fixing the financial sector with a new Glass-Stegall or a Tobin tax on transactions, or something. Actually addressing these problems would take massive amounts of gumption and a reallocation of government funds and a rethinking of ideologies — and Congress has no gumption, no understanding of an idea not already held, and no taste for anything but the status quo. After all, the economy's going great, haven't you heard?
And the Democrats? They go along. They're relieved, actually. Obama says he wants to do something about climate change in particular, and his executive orders have helped, but it's too little, too late. Climate change demands a massive and immediate response — a decade ago. We need a war on climate change, which is a real problem, and not an expensive and ultimately counterprodictive war on terror, and not a war on the middle class, and not, dear God, a war on drugs. We won't get the right war. Maybe we never will, we'll just go up in smoke while pretending everything's fine. We're not just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, we're reduced to using the damned things as lifeboats.